When traveling with valuable gear, such as cameras, jewelry, and prescription meds, it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your belongings. Protecting your belongings is crucial to maintaining their value and functionality, whether you’re a tourist who enjoys taking photos as their travels progress, a diabetic who relies on insulin that needs to be kept cold, or someone who wants to show off different diamond bracelets when dining. We will discuss the best ways to travel with your treasures. We’ll explore some of the best alternatives available today.Read the rest of this entry »
I needed to research African photo safaris that could be linked to cruises. It would be a 2–3-week vacation with a budget of about $25,000 per couple. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to try out ChatGPT, and this looked like it would be a perfect test.
ChatGPT is a new computer program that can assist travel advisors—or middle school students, physicians, politicians, or anyone else—by helping them answer questions and provide client information. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand and respond to text messages in a way that mimics human conversation.Read the rest of this entry »
The holidays are upon us, and it’s excellent news that bookings are up. But it’s not going to be a Merry Christmas if you don’t prepare your clients for the new realities of this winter’s cruises now that we’re facing the triple whammy of COVID, flu, and RSV.Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s face it. Cruises are now commodity products. Everyone sells the same ships and itineraries for similar prices. So how do you stand out from all the others selling the same cruise—maybe for a few dollars less?
Try focusing on things you can add to the cruise package.Read the rest of this entry »
When the feds removed COVID testing before embarkation regulations a few months ago, most travel advisors and cruise execs cheered. Bookings exploded—in some cases exceeding pre-pandemic levels—and some stock analysts saw relief from the vast debt the Big Three has amassed.
On September 22, Jack Stebbins reported on CNBC that total debt was 35 billion for Carnival, 25 billion for Royal Caribbean, and 14 billion for Norwegian. This is much less than their stock values that day, which were $11.01 billion, 11.18 billion, and 5.61 billion, respectively—less than half of what the companies owed. The article said that the cruise lines’ best hope is the luxury cruise market, which is not as sensitive to economic downturns. This luxury market is centered on “small ships,” with fewer than 1300 guests.Read the rest of this entry »
After three years “on the hard,” I was eager to cruise again on a line and ship that I had been on before. As our inaugural effort, we selected 12-night Fall Foliage Cruise on the Seabourn Quest. We started in New York City earlier this week and are now approaching Halifax in Nova Scotia. My intent is to describe how cruising has changed in the past three years.
As dedicated small-ship cruisers, we have sailed on 2-3 voyages a year for more than two decades: mostly on high-end lines including Silversea, Regent, Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Windstar, and Seabourn. Later this year, I will do the same while we are cruising on some of the newest offerings from Viking Ocean and Regent.Read the rest of this entry »
The most common mistake travelers make is NOT taking a camera when cruising. “After all,” they say, “a smartphone is all use when I’m home. Why should I also bring a heavier camera?”
Cruises represent new challenges most of us don’t face in everyday life. We don’t spend as much time outdoors; we don’t need to contend with never-ending glare, and our subjects are usually within eight feet of us. Also, we’re not visiting places to which we might never return.
For all those reasons, you should take a “real” camera on your vacation along with your smartphone. The best travel cameras weigh less than 2 pounds—including the lens—and are nearly unnoticeable. They also don’t need a flash to take amazing photos.Read the rest of this entry »
I thought it would be interesting to see how some destinations and cruise lines have changed since 2021. The pandemic has been the worst period for the cruise industry since World War II. While the number of cruises is rebounding sharply, some destinations are facing a cloudy future as cruise destinations and many cruise lines are contending with daunting debt in ways that may affect how they treat their guests.
At the same time, there are some winners on which travel advisors can focus, if they want to benefit clients and themselves, as well as some question marks that can go either way.Read the rest of this entry »
Today, as never before, your clients’ price for travel purchases largely depends on when you buy them. It used to be that clients could be roughly placed in one of two groups: One that accepts the first offer before other buyers see it; and one that defers purchase decisions as long as possible.
- Those who follow the “buy it now” strategy know that when products are heavily promoted and advertised, the first offer is usually the best, and buyers who trail the pack won’t receive the same benefits or prices.
- Those that avoid making financial decisions feel that better opportunities are always available, if someone is willing to ferret them out.
According to a recent article in Forbes, “travel protection” was originally offered by cruise lines and other travel organizations as self-funded trip cancellation protection that paid the cancellation penalties if a client canceled a trip. It was sold through travel advisors and the travel organization’s own telephone reps for a modest price.
The idea was simple: If a cruise line booked a stateroom for a client who later wanted to cancel, they could cancel and receive a full cash refund or credit—if they had purchased the Trip Protection Option. This was a low risk to the cruise line, since the stateroom could be resold to another passenger. It was an easy sell for travel advisors and paid a low commission.
A couple came to me a few weeks ago wanting to explore Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in January 2023. One of them was an experienced cruiser who favored ocean-going vessels; the other especially wanted to see the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. They were open to any mode of travel, so long as it was extremely comfortable. Both were ardent walkers and foodies; they had 2-3 weeks set aside to travel.
They realized they might have to make some adjustments since Angkor Wat is not close to any sea lanes, and they knew that they didn’t want to take any overnight excursions that would rack up costs and time away from home. After considering the options, I proposed two vacations to consider:Read the rest of this entry »
If a potential client asks you to recommend a cruise, the worst thing you can do is start rattling off cruise lines and destinations. Unless you know them very well, before you jump in with suggestions, engage them in a conversation in which you weave in the following questions. These will help qualify them as potential cruisers and help you to guide them to the best choices.Read the rest of this entry »
If the pandemic had done nothing else in the past few years, it has convinced travel advisors and guests to buy travel insurance. The thought of being stranded in a foreign hospital, or quarantine facility, and possibly being prohibited from flying home on a scheduled airline has made nearly everyone a believer. It has convinced nearly everyone they need a travel insurance policy that treats COVID-19 as “any other illness or accident.”
Some guests are signing up for CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) travel insurance that entitles guests to a refund for almost any reason. CFAR policies are often 30-40 percent more expensive than other policies offering the same benefits, and some only pay off in credits for a future trip. Also, some apply a percentage deduction against the refunds the guests claim. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve ever used a Kodak Retina folding camera or a Rolleiflex twin-reflex, you’ve been obsessed with photography for a long time.
Retinas were to Eastman Kodak what Cadillac was to General Motors. For 55 years, from 1934 to 1969, these German-made 35mm folding bellows cameras were at the top of the camera food chain. They had f2.8 or f3.5 50mm lenses—just like many cameras made today—and were the ultimate choice for vacationers seeking a camera they could take to Europe or the family cottage. Retinas could fold up to fit in a jacket pocket or purse. Models in good condition can take great photos today with 35mm film. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, I flew roundtrip from Los Angeles to Oakland to see my grandson and his parents. It was my first time in the air in more than a year. Here’s a report card on how everyone did.
Southwest Airlines: Grade B-
Southwest was nearly the same as it was pre-pandemic. Fast on-time flights, courteous service by flight attendants with a sense of humor, and reasonable prices. Except for wearing masks on the flights, it was like the Delta variant of COVID-19 didn’t exist.
Because my wife and I are both fully vaxxed, but are “Infected Flier Hesitant,” we took an aisle and window seat in the front of the plane and put this sign on the middle seat between us. Read the rest of this entry »
A decade ago, many expedition ships were retired ice breakers lacking in creature comforts such as nice staterooms and good food. That situation started to change when some traditional luxury small ship cruise lines and charter operators ordered “luxury expedition ships.” These ships combined their usual cruising features with polar-rated PC6 hulls that could handle ice packs in Antarctica and, hopefully, transit the Northwest Passage unassisted.
Many of the ship designers let their imaginations run wild. They added a helicopter and a mini-submarine; and “garages” that permitted the vessels to launch and retrieve Zodiacs and water toys from inside the ship. Most also supplemented the crew with naturalists, professional photographers, and armed polar bear guards—bringing some guest-crew ratios to almost 1:1. Read the rest of this entry »
When a client says to you, “Find me a cruise that’s safe and affordable,” it’s easy to do—if you know where to look.
The factors I look for are the following:
- The quality of the ships and the service your clients are likely to receive.
- The vax status of the nations they will visit.
- The lowest nightly price of available balcony staterooms.
Use these data after seeing the answers to a brief Five-Minute Profile submitted by each client. You will suggest cruises that will be better choices than other travel advisors, or ones cruise line reps can provide, and will likely generate deposits within a few days.
Let’s do this for two seniors whose Five-Minute Profile says they have cruised on Carnival, Holland America, and Celebrity before Read the rest of this entry »
For at least the last decade, most cruise lines have devoted themselves to nurturing a younger clientele. The dream has been to capture cruisers in midlife and hold on to them for the next 30-40 years. Now, COVID-19 is turning this strategy on its head.
Most international ports are on the verge of welcoming Americans warmly, if everyone on the ships (crew members and guests alike) are vaccinated and eager to spend money on meals, excursions and hotels. As an essential plus, most seniors are already vaxed and—according to several recent surveys—want to sail on ships on which everyone is vaxed. The following statistics were based on data reported last week by The New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »